The skillful selling of travel in an ever-changing digital age is a new game for many, and, while it may seem daunting, provides limitless opportunities to win! Thanks to Alexa, Siri and Google, there is the tendency for consumers to believe there is “perfect knowledge” available. However, the sheer magnitude of choices and reality of algorithms tied to effective advertising makes it necessary, more than ever, to consult with a travel expert.
A qualified travel expert helps consumers avoid buyers’ remorse, the ultimate disappointment. A travel expert who provides a personal, credible and high-quality customer service stands a greater chance of engendering customer loyalty, which is a primary goal of travel marketing. A travel professional’s credibility is essentially their business’ seal of approval; particularly for a typical home-based or independent contractor without a “brick and mortar” office. Consumer trust remains at the heart of buying decisions and as travel experts guide clients through the “sales process,” the true vacation doctors get the opportunity to shine.
1. Map It! Make Geography your Priority
Knowledge of the lay of the land is a travel expert’s super power! Until you know the lay of the land, you will lack some confidence in exploring all options in a destination, including adventure sites, marinas, best beaches, transfer times and whether to split a stay or not. By using digital tools, GPS technology and an invaluable mapping session with your tourist board, you can achieve this.
2. Narrow Your Focus and Market Your
Time in your world is money—literally—so spend it wisely. Sell the world, but the focus of your business should be known and explicit. Specializing in certain bucket-list tourist destinations as experts has its perks. Be flexible as changes unfold. Your brand should own that place in the minds of all who interact with it. Are you a Destination Weddings Diva or Divo? Do you carry yourself like one? Ensure your branding (both personal and corporate) communicates strategically to support the messages, and do include accreditations of specialist programs you have successfully completed as well as powerful testimonials to convey the value you bring—that far supersedes any smart device.
Work closely with your tourist board to collect and file away captivating and arresting imagery and multimedia so you have a bank on demand.
3. Experienced Matchmaker
Through your depth of knowledge, be able to differentiate/describe passionately (with stories) the unique attributes, culture, natural beauty of a destination. This will greatly assist in matching clients confidently. Sell the entire destination experience based on the individual interests of clients being served, because visiting Saint Lucia and NOT seeing the Pitons is like going to Paris and not experiencing the Eiffel Tower. Collect an arsenal of the best options by category. Make it a habit to request listings and direct contacts of the best wedding planning services, dining options for groups, nightlife options, a range of transportation services, including helicopters, and DMCs by areas of expertise (including enriching CSR experts—corporate social responsibility).
4. Don’t be Anti-Social
Re-work your website and social media occasionally to ensure you maximize exposure and engagement to YOUR target audience. Again, be selective. Narrow your focus. Know your audience, their communication style and where they live. But most importantly, engage with them. Don’t leave them hanging.
5. Content is king! Content can build credibility
You can NEVER have too much content and it is best to over shoot. Before, during and after a FAM ensure you are capturing the stories, meeting the characters and interviewing the best representatives—“from the horse’s mouth”—to create the most compelling content for all your platforms. Talk with the “geeks” and put your best snaps forward.
And finally, this is not a charity, it’s a business, so always add mystery to ensure you stay in the driver’s seat. When posting, aim to entice without sharing the entire location and never tag the actual partner handle. Later, when folks ask, you can share without directly connecting them to the source and offer to expertly guide them. After all, it’s business.
My favorite tip, which has been mastered by travel advisor Kathy Ash Richards, asserts the intangible power of your connections and network where a particular destination is concerned. You can therefore confidently deliver above and beyond any website or smart device with the “I’ve got a guy.…” This speaks volumes to your prospect, and regardless of what they think they have found, no doubt they will want to hear what you have to share. So, go confidently and present your personal brand of service because in the grand scheme of travel: “Confidence always breeds confidence” and there is absolutely no substitute for travel experience. Use it!